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Turtles: Conservation

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government’s policy is on the protection of chelonians, with particular reference to turtles. (159245)

Marine turtles are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 and the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007 which came into force in August of this year. These pieces of legislation establish a strict system of protection for marine turtles in the UK, including prohibitions in respect of the deliberate capture, injuring, killing or disturbance, as well as the sale or exchange, of these species.

The UK also plays a prominent role in various international agreements and conventions such as the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) and the convention on migratory species (CMS), both of which include measures to protect endangered chelonians (including marine turtles, tortoises and terrapins). The illegal trade in CITES species is one of the top UK wildlife crime priorities for 2007-08, with a particular focus on five species, including tortoises, that are threatened by illegal trade.